Florida's Freshwater is Under Attack

Our aquifers and springs are being depleted at an unsustainable rate

We are in a Water Emergency

Existing sources of water will not meet the needs of Floridians for the next 20 years

Groundwater Protection

We Can:

  • Ensure Fresh Drinking Water for All Floridians

  • Enforce Regulations that Have Been Ignored

  • Limit Sinkholes and Pollutants

Access to clean drinking water is a human right, no Floridian should be worried about the quality, price, or potential contamination of the water they drink. Due to Florida’s geography and proximity to several large bodies of water, the quality of our environment is especially at risk of irreparable harm. Our natural springs and aquifers, a crucial source of freshwater that 90% of Floridians rely on for drinking water, are being depleted at an unsustainable rate. Groundwater extraction, or the process by which freshwater is drilled and pumped from underground aquifers, can cause irreparable damage to our environment if water is pumped to the surface incorrectly or too often.[1]

 

The unsustainable corporate and governmental extraction practices for agricultural and municipal use are part of the larger global emergency of climate change and is exacerbated by rising sea levels and droughts. With a steadily rising population, demand for fresh water in Florida is expected to increase at least 23% by 2035. 

 

As demand increases, the underground supply will be further exploited and over-pumped, resulting in the overall depletion of our freshwater supply, the weakening of limestone leading to sinkholes, the release of dangerous pollutants into the atmosphere, and the deterioration of the Everglades and natural swamps that act as filtration systems for the water we drink.[2] 

 

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the main agency responsible for issuing groundwater pumping permits, is complicit with the further deterioration of Florida’s water. The FDEP continues to issue permits across the state despite research showing extensive flow reduction and ongoing groundwater pollution that far exceeds the current legal limits.[3]

 

Evidence in Your Own Backyard

The ill-effects of aquifer extraction are being felt throughout the state of Florida, from the Everglades to the extensive spring networks of North Florida, all while consumption increases and any opportunities for recovery continue to wither. According to a 2020 study by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), if Florida does not drastically alter their drilling/pumping practices “...Existing sources of water will not adequately meet the reasonable-beneficial needs [of Floridians] for the next 20 years.”[4] This means the lakes, springs, rivers, and any body of water in Florida’s massive aquatic ecosystem has been and will continue to be negatively impacted.[5]

 

A water shortage is just one of many issues that will inevitably arise from the depletion of our natural aquifers. As water depletes, wells will need to be redrilled to accommodate the new water level. The costs of redrilling and longer pumps will reflect in rising prices for consumers. Contaminants from fracking, pesticides, and fertilizer runoff remain a constant issue in groundwater quality. Without access to clean drinking water, entire ecosystems will collapse. We have already seen the large-scale destruction of wildlife, trees, and fish spurred by contamination and groundwater pumping across the United States. According to a report published in Issues in Science and Technology, “Groundwater pumping has dried up or degraded 90 percent of Arizona’s desert streams, rivers, and riparian habitats.”[6] If immediate action is not taken by our elected officials, Florida will undoubtedly suffer the same fate.

[1] https://www.usgs.gov/special-topics/water-science-school/science/groundwater-decline-and-depletion

[2] https://www.planetforward.org/idea/florida-aquifer-crisis

[3] https://floridaspringsinstitute.org/beyond-significant-harm/

[4] https://fdep.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=473b768b4af049bf91b2879b83ea961c

[5https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-environment/2019/07/24/study-drilling-deeper-groundwater-wells-united-states-unsustainable/1797480001/

[6]https://issues.org/glennon/

Education

So, What Can We Do?!

We are in a Water Emergency

The Commissioner of Agriculture can use Florida Statute 570.07 to declare aquifer depletion/contamination an agricultural emergency, in which the Commissioner may “make, adopt, and promulgate rules and issue orders which will be effective during the term of the emergency.”[1 Through emergency powers, the Commissioner can strictly enforce any environmental regulations related to both surface and groundwater in their purview that have been ignored by the FDEP


Additionally, the Commissioner will ensure that counties, special districts, municipalities, water management districts, and the FDEP adhere to FL statute 373.707, which mandates that these entities cooperate and work towards the development of an alternative.

 

[1] http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0500-0599/0570/Sections/0570.07.html#:~:text=570.07%20Department%20of%20Agriculture%20and,functions%2C%20powers%2C%20and%20duties.